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Currency/ Spending Money in Tunisia

edited September 2009 in - North Africa
I am travelling to Tunisia on Wednesday with my significant other for a week, staying in Skanes. I am aware that you have to wait until you are in the country before obtaining currency so I will be taking british sterling to change - is this sensible?

Also, I have read that it is important to haggle for things. However, I would like a few examples of reasonable prices to pay for various things (eg, taxi, bus, bottle of water, water sports etc) so that I know what price to expect to get things for!

I have also seen that there are camal tours and sea fishing available, are these worth doing and what should I expect to pay?

One last thing... What plug adapters should we take with us?

Thanks.
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Comments

  • edited September 2009
    My memories of Tunisia, or Skanes in particular, are not pleasant I'm afraid although perhaps the resort will suit you well as it does many other people but I found there was little or nothing to do in Skanes. Fist off, Skanes is not Monastir, it is a tourist resort only; Monastir is a town some distance away.

    As you will be mostly hotel-based (nothing in the area) you will be limited as to where you shop; I suggest you get a taxi or train to Souss which has many shops and restaurants and the art of haggling becomes more entertaining.

    On the money front, Sterling will be accepted for exchange into Tunisian Dinars in the hotels. Not sure about Travellers Cheques nowadays but I took them when I was there a while ago but elsewhere (partic Morocco) they are notoriously difficult to exchange.

    I can only describe Skanes as a having 25Km of beach, an airport, no shops (except in hotels), no sights, no bars, no nightclubs (except in hotels), nothing but hotels and beach.
    In other words, as there are no shops, bars etc, there's nothing to spend your money on.

    The one redeeming feature was an interesting small town called Sahline, ask any Tunisian to direct you as it makes a nice change, I only found it on my return from Sousse one dark night when I got lost coming off the train.

    Tourists visiting Tunisia who are willing to explore are fortunate to find a fairly reliable railway network spanning most of the country. The trains can take you, in a matter of minutes, to Monastir which is about 10Km from Skanes in one direction or Sousse which is also about 10Km from Skanes the other way.
    The train also goes to Mahdia, a fishing town best visited on Friday for the market or any day for the early morning fishing activities; the journey took about one and a half hours.
    Of course the rail can take you much further if you are prepared to go all the way to Tunis for example.

    The voltage in Tunisia is 230V, 50Hz and you will need a european 2-pin adaptor.

    Get in touch if you need a map or ideas of typical trips.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Lucky for us, we hate bars/nightclubs/shopping and are purely going for the sun and the beach. But its always nice to have people slate the place you have chosen to pay for a holiday before you get there!

    Anyone else able to answer my question regarding costs of things a little more accurately? I really would like some example prices. Thanks.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi, I havent got any details for you but we travel to Skanes on Oct 4th with 2 young children, I would appreciate some feedback from you when you get back on your experience, I hope you have a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying the wonderful weather
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi - don't be put off by the comments. If you are looking for sun and beach then you are in the right place, although the weather is starting to cool off now, but this can be a plus as our summer is really hot! To be honest, I don't know the price of anything in Skanes but I can give you some idea: Water in the cities is at a fixed rate. Sometimes the supermarkets will have them on special. A one litre bottle will usually cost around 1/2 dinar or less. Taxis - it will depend on where you are going of course but a 1 km journey will cost around TD1.000. It is only acceptable to haggle for goods in the open markets (not food) and in the souqs. Shops have fixed prices. You should bring a European 2 pin plug adaptor although many of the hotels will happily lend you one if you need. There are a number of alternatives for public transport, train, bus and louage. The louage is the cheapest and sometimes the best fun! They are mini vans holding 9 people and will leave when the seats are taken. Again, the price will depend on where you are going but the transport here is cheap. For example, if I travel to see my mother-in-law about 20km from where I live it costs me the grand total of just on TD3.000, but beware that whether you travel the whole distance or not, you still pay the same price. I am not sure about the prices for water sports - but in general, your currency will take you a long way here. Everything is much, much cheaper than in the UK!!! One thing to be aware of is that you should try to use up all your TD before you leave. The currency rate overseas is woeful and the international airport duty free will not accept TD only foreign currency or credit cards.

    I hope you have a wonderful vacation
  • edited 7:58PM
    Shells - I've just got back from Skanes and had a great time. The hotel was pretty basic and definately not the 4star as advertised but the weather was (mostly) lovely and hot. The amphitheatre in El Jem is definately worth a visit, however I did find that there wasn't an awful lot to do at the resort. This wasn't a problem for us as we were there to chill out and not do much else! But I think travelling with children, you may need to be imaginative to provide entertainment for them, or take a cheap bus (about 1/2 dinar compared to 8 dinar for a taxi) to Monistir or Sousse. Port el Kantaoui a few kilometres past Sousse is apparently really nice and there is an aqua park there also. I don't know which hotel you are in, but depending on the length of your stay you will most likely need to travel a bit to find some activities. On the plus, I found all staff at the hotel and in shops/bars etc really helpful and friendly. Hope you have a great holiday!
  • edited 7:58PM
    im planning a trip to tunisia next year,can you use british credit cards over there
    Dani
  • edited 7:58PM
    Dani - yes you can use British credit cards but please be aware that Cash is King here and credit cards are not the norm. Usually the resorts and hotels will accept the cc and also the larger hire car companies.

    Enjoy your visit
  • edited 7:58PM
    hi , i am going to tunisia in dec, i need to know about kasserine??
    like, can we rent an apartment.? can we get a train from monastir to kasserine direct?? plzz can you help
    anne
  • edited 7:58PM
    Annie - Kasserine is in the south. It depends on how long you are going to go as to whether it would be worth renting an apartment. I don't think there are trains direct from Monastir to Kasserine. You will need to probably go to Tunis and then to Kasserine. The best way is to take the bus, comfortable and reliable.
  • edited 7:58PM
    "cash is king" - where can you change sterling into TD in Tunisia and what is the current exchange rate at these places?
  • edited 7:58PM
    Boris - we all use cash here. You can change sterling into TD in any bank, post office or in the large cities the Bureaux de change. the er fluctuates so you should go to a site such as: www.xe.com where you will see the latest rates. You can sometimes shop around to get the best rate but the banks will be the best.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Annie. The Tunisian train company (SNCFT) has a website with timetables and prices. It is at http://www.sncft.com.tn/index.php although only the French language version is working. Even with a little understanding of French it is useable though.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Guys, glad to hear you all had good holidays, I am going in december anyone know how the weather is I will be in Hammamet if anyone can give me some insight of what s good and what to avoid that will be helpful. Im really into water sports much of that going on? Thinking in december the weather might not be warm enough to hang around in the sea? or is it. Thanks :) Tarryn
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi,

    I am travelling to Skanes in February with a female friend. Is this safe for two females alone? Also, what is the weather like then? Is it best to change our currency before we go, or when we get there? I notice that people have mentioned water sports and an aqua park - will these be available in February?

    Many thanks

    Michelle
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Tarryn - weather is definitely getting cooler here. You won't find many in the water now, bit on the chilly side. Hammamet is very touristique and you will find lots to do, pubs, bars, discos, etc. Learn a few words of Arabic/French as it will really be useful for you and the locals appreciate it. If you have time you should visit some of the areas around Hammamet as it is a lovely area. Enjoy your time.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Michelle, yes Tunisia is safe for a couple of females and for everyone else. The Tunisian Dinar is difficult to find outside the country so this means that you will need to change when you get here. The best rates are usually the banks but in Tunis the capitol you can find Bureaux de Change offices. February is cold here. Too cold for the water or the aqua park. I'm not sure that this is open but if you do a search on the web I'm sure you can find out. I hope you enjoy your visit to my adopted country
  • edited 7:58PM
    I think, Tunisia could be an interesting place to visit.
    Well I have not planned already to visit though. I want to gather information about safety, accommodation, food and activities to do - including sight seeing, museums, festival, choice of food specially from vegan category. Connecting flight. Possible stay which would fill the satisfaction of visiting Tunisia.
    Some one who has already visited and been there can write their experiences to me at sunilsts56 at yahoo dot com (omit spaces between ).
  • edited 7:58PM
    Sunny,

    there are many great sites you can go to look for information about Tunisie. Try www.tunisia.com - a fantastic site with destination guides for all the regions. Tunisie is a safe country, low crime rate. Accommodation is not as it is in Europe. A 5 star hotel can only be found in the upmarket tourist areas. Try getting the Lonely Planet guide to Tunisia. It contains all the information you could possibly want. If you want more information please feel free to email me but it can take me some time to reply.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Lesley
    Your advice and information is great and I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me. I am taking my wife and 2 children under 18 months hopefully to to Skanes and staying at the Hotel Sahara beach in the middle of March 2010. What's the weather like as I want to take my toddler son out swimming. I am aware there are no shops nearby but like you said Sousse is 4 miles away and easily reachable by taxi. How much is getting a taxi from the airport to the hotel as I rather not pay the travel agent £20 to go by coach or would you recommend paying for the coach? I am very interested in visiting the sites where star wars was filmed and would the hotel offer a local package for this visit. I would go alone and leave the wife and kids at the hotel. Can I exchange currency at the aiport in Tunisia or can I get tunisian currency from the uk?
    many thanks
    Miz
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi there Miz and welcome to Tunisia. March can be cold! I think the sea water will be too cold for your toddler (certainly would be for me)!! However, the hotels mostly have heated pools so that might be a better option. which airport are you arriving into? If you are coming into Tunis then don't catch a taxi!! It will cost you mega dinars. It is easier to organise either the travel company or the hotel to pick you up. (Although BPS20 is a total rip off) I am totally honest with you - after a flight of a few hours, two young children and a tired wife I would advise opting for the most comfortable way of getting to your hotel. Makes for a happier family. Star Wars was filmed in and around Tataouine and Matmata. I am sure the hotel can organise a tour for you but it would be a very full day - but absolutely worth it.

    The currency here is the Tunisian Dinar and is divided into 1000 millim to 1 Dinar. You can't buy it (or very rarely) outside Tunisia. I would advise that you change a small amount at the airport when you arrive for your immediate use and then go to the bank in Skanes where you will more than likely get a better exchange rate.

    I do hope you will enjoy your holiday
  • edited 7:58PM
    We are coming at the end of Jan staying till 10th feb.
    Is it really cold???? bearing in mind its snowing here!!
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Lisa - it depends where you are staying? Very rarely snows here in Tunisia. the weather right now is not normal..........it has been very, very warm even here in the North. So, it could be quite nice when you come, but the weather is changing and today was cooler. But - it's a lot warmer here than snow I can promise you that.

    Enjoy your time here
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi im thinking of going to tunisia in april probably hammamet while looking at the hotels it says something about non married couples cant share the same bed is this true also if you have any recommendations pls let me know as i havent quite made my mind up and what will the weather be like
    Thanks
    Danny
  • edited 7:58PM
    Danny - it can be very hit and miss re the hotels. I can't give you recommendations but in Hammamet they are all fairly good resorts unless you are looking for v v cheap. When you make your reservation you can ask if unmarried couples can share the same room. It usually only applies to mixed ethnicity i.e. westerner with a tunisian. But Hammamet is quite touristique and used to having foreigners all year round. The weather in April is still cool, but for us, probably not for anyone else. High teens to high 20s on some days. But the mediterannean water is still pretty cool. If you are wanting sun, sand, sea then better to come late May early June before the real heat sets in. Otherwise late September to late November is also very, very nice
  • edited 7:58PM
    hiya we r going to tunisia on 10th feb, staying at the dar khayam in hamammet, we av been informed building work going on, does any1 know how much building work and how this will disrupt r holiday. can any1 let me know what the weather is like and also what trips r best value to go on, i was interested about the camel trips. wot is going on nearby what r the best cafes n shops to go to, and finally is it true u can take whisky n mobile phones to barter with. thanks i would be really glad if any1 can give me any feed back thanks again
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Julie - i don't know about the building work but I'll try to find out for you. But for the most part they do not do any construction work during the night time hours, so even if they are building you will be able to sleep well. right now the weather is v.v. cold - we are having storms, wind and rain. Very pleasant NOT. Just so you know, it's winter here and it can get quite cold although Hammamet is a little milder than the north and south especially where the temps can be below freezing in the desert. Where did you hear about whisky and mobiles being barter tools!! LOL. What would you barter for? you can only bring in 2 litres of alcohol here so it won't go far for you. Just so you know, while this is an Arabic/Muslim country, alcohol is freely available but it is not cheap. If you want to 'haggle' for prices then you should do it in a respectful and friendly way. Learn a few words of Arabic or French - always appreciated.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hiya lesley Thanks for the info i hope it gets a bit warmer when we come to tunisia, we want to go out n about n c as much as we can. The building work is going on in the hotel they aving a refurb thats what r travel agent told us they said we wouldnt be disrupted to much, i dont know weather to believe them. Im really looking forward to coming to tunisia n ive been trying to learn a few words in french, but im not that good i will carry on trying. take care n bye for now.
  • edited 7:58PM
    hi i am going to Port El Kantaoui, can u tell me what its like? what can you do when you get there? where can you exchange your uk pounds there? whats the weather like there? i am going at the end of january until febuary 10, can you also explain a bit about the currency there? sori for all the questions but first time going to Port El Kantaoui and i want to have a good time!!
    Jasmine
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hey Julie - I'm not sure about warmer..........tbh today is like ice here!! If the travel agent is located outside Tunisia then you may be able to take their word for it. However, you are coming off season so there are plenty of hotels with rooms available. Glad that you are learning a few words, will really help you!! I hope you enjoy your time here, it's a wonderful country
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Jasmine = PEK is a purpose built tourist area. There is a medina with shops and lots of bars/cafes/restaurants. It is a very nice area. You can exchange your money at any bank, post office etc. You'll probably get the best rate at the bank. the currency is the Tunisian Dinar. 1,000 millims make 1 Dinar. We have TD50/30/20 notes and TD5, 1, 1/2 dinar coins. the weather today is very cold, however PEK is a little milder but it will still be very cool. It can be very windy and rainy this time of year. Take some warmer clothes with you. Too cold for a swim though! Have a fun time
  • edited 7:58PM
    Thanks leslie
  • edited 7:58PM
    hi guys just had a read through some of the comments and see some great advice,

    was just wondering if anyone could give me advice on port el kantaoui, as me and my girlfriend are planning on going there in april for a little winter sun, could you please tell me about the local area i.e markets etc, my girlfriend loves that kind of thing,where is the local markets?, also the price of things like camel rides ect.

    thanks
    colin
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Colinmc,

    PEK is purpose built for tourists. However, it is lovely, there is a great marina area with lots of cafes, restaurants etc. there is a souk and also fixed price shopping but usually aimed at tourists. If you want loads of info on PEK then look on the internet.....loads of info, too much for me to write here.

    Enjoy your time
  • edited 7:58PM
    HI, I was just wondering about me and my fiance getting married in Tunisia? We are both British and have a holiday booked for August and would like to incorporate our Wedding during our stay? Could you tell me whether this would be possible and what sort of Wedding we could have? Would it have to be a civil one in Skanes? Do you know any good companies over there that we could try please Lesley? Thanks
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi James - mabrouk on your impending marriage. To be honest with you, I have never heard of tourists getting married here in Tunisia. The country is 99.9% Muslim and the marriages here are according to Islamic law. I don't even think that there are any non-muslim notaires here. A Tunisian wedding, the actual marriage is basically signing of a contract between the two parties. After than there can be a very large party. Because of all the rules regarding marriage here (blood tests/birth certificates/carte d'identitie etc I would think that it will not be possible for you. However - why don't you turn it into a honeymoon instead.
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi,
    My fiance and I have booked our honeymoon for 11th of April to Mahdia, although i'm starting to look into it and getting a little worried!! Firstly, what will the weather be like? Although we would like to do as much as we can, we would like to be able to spend some time on the gorgeous beaches we have seen! Also, with the counrty being mainly muslim i've read that women have to dress super conservative and may not be allowed in some restaurants? This is our firt time abroad together, and our first time away from our young daughter for any considerable time so i want it to be really worth it! Any help/advice etc?
    Thanks,
    Joanne
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Joanne - oh you are so, so lucky!! Mahdia is absolutely beautiful! It is almost as it was when it was founded in AD916 and you will find it's small streets very inviting. Walk along Ave 7 Novembre or rue du Borj for fabulous views of the mediterannean (very romantic at sunset). There is a lot to see there such as the medina, the Skifa el Kahla. museum and for coffee etc head to pace du Caire. Also the Borj el Kebir is the large fortress. Market day is Friday and is a good place to mingle with the locals and buy fresh produce. For day trips consider Kairouan (the original Islamic centre) and Sfax within easy reach. But of course, the beach is as you say gorgeous!

    tunisia is not super conservative, but I always offer the advice to foreigners to be conservative as it will help especially the ladies not to be subject to some forms of harrassment - but you will only be turned away from a restaurant if perhaps you are wearing a bikini but not otherwise!

    The weather is difficult to predict - it is spring which can be unpredictable but expect some mild days but cool nights.

    I do hope you enjoy your stay and I'm sure you will want to come back
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi lesley, I found this forum totally by accident but i'm sure glad i did. both me and my wife are in our 50's and are hoping to get away from our 2 grown up children in about May time. I've read your replies to many of the questiopns and find your information both interesting and informative, thanks. My wife is afraid of going to Tunisia due to what she has heard about the poverty there. I am hoping that we can go and stay in Hammamet for a week in May. We would mainly stay by the pool, on the beach or go shopping as we both love wandering around seeing if we can grab a bargain.I wondered if you could tell me what I can expect from the weather please and is there anything inparticular we would need to know before going such as begging, approaching strangers, street sellers, shopping in general etc, any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Graham
  • edited 7:58PM
    Hi Graham - you made me laugh! Getting away from the children is such a great idea!! Tunisia is not a wealthy country, far from it, and for the most part, people don't have a lot of money but to be honest with you, you will not see any poverty. If someone is in trouble then family members usually come to the rescue and if there are huge difficulties, the Mosque is always there in times of dire need. So, please don't worry about this. There are no beggars in the streets, however, you may be approached by older women for a few coins. Of course we are used to this and good Muslims will usually give something. This of course is a part of the religion. We usually give 1/2 dinar so it is not very much to part with.

    Hammamet is lovely - it is very touristique but for your first time here, you will both enjoy it very, very much. There are some good resort hotels that offer full board if you wish but I advise you to take 1/2 board and then go try the local restaurants for some excellent and very cheap food.

    All Tunisians are hospitable and very, very happy to help foreigners. If you need for example to ask the way, or if you are a little lost, most in Hammamet will speak a few words of English and more often than not they will escort you to where you are going. If you have some French then so much the better. Try to learn a few words of Arabic - it always goes down well. eg. Thank you - shokran, please - eye shek (this is Tunisian dialect).

    You will find lots of bargains here - there is a lot of tourist tacky but searching out down little side streets is worth it. the medina is very nice and sell everything. there are markets which are open every day and buying some fresh fruit is lovely. Of course there are fixed price shops but to be honest, try negotiating with a stall holder - start at 1/2 the price and end up with a treasure!

    The weather in May is mild to warm and can get hot so you will enjoy being by the pool, the beach or just wandering around. Not too hot for long walks.

    If you want any more information please let me know, I am happy to assist in any way I can.

    Please re-assure your wife that she will love it here and will want to come back again and again...............this is my adopted home and I love it here.

    Enjoy your time here
  • edited 7:58PM
    I am a very fit and lively 68yr old going on holiday with my daughter and son in law early 40's and 16yr old granddaughter.We are staying at Royal Kendz PEK all inclusive.My son in law is disabled and uses crutches.I've read about building work at hotel,can you tell me anything about that.Travel agent omitted to tell us. Would you advise carrying plenty of 1 dinar coins to tip. thanks. babs.
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